All posts by Victoria Murgante

Victoria Murgante

About Victoria Murgante

Victoria is always looking for something good to read. Her claims to fame are taking guitar lessons from a friend of Raffi's (he was a great teacher!), contributing a three-word spoken part to a hard rock album in the early 90s and owning a pair of pants that were hemmed by Michael Cera's aunt.

Salut, Omar Sy

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I am writing today about a terrific actor who deserves special mention: Omar Sy.  Having spent nearly 13 hours and 31 minutes researching (viewing his films) I feel confident saying that he is one of the greats.  In 2012, he won France’s “most prestigious acting award, the Cesar” for his role in Intouchables.  According to Information Cradle, “he is the first recipient of African descent to win the César Award” (I believe it is in the same league as winning an Oscar).  Sy comes from a large family, the fourth of eight children born to West-African immigrants who settled in France.  He grew up in low-income housing projects but made his way to the big time, forming a comedy duo with Fred Testot not long after graduating from high school.  Intouchables was his break-out role.

All of these films are in Continue reading

Stride Toward Freedom

“The act of walking for many had become of symbolic importance. Once, a pool driver stopped beside an elderly woman who was trudging along with obvious difficulty. “Jump in grandmother,” he said, “you don’t need to walk.” She waved him off, “I’m not walking for myself,” she explained, “I’m walking for my children and my grandchildren.” And she continued toward home on foot.”

Image result for montgomery bus boycottI want to draw attention to a true gem in our collection; the e-audiobook of Martin Luther King Jr.’s incredible book, Stride Toward Freedom: a first-person (and sometimes tremendously personal) narrative of the Montgomery Story from King’s perspective. From December the 5th, 1955 (following the arrest of Rosa Parks, who refused to give up her seat on a city bus when ordered to) until December 20, 1956, the Black community in Montgomery, Alabama boycotted the city buses. At the time, the history of mistreatment on those buses was so rampant that there was scarcely anybody who had not either witnessed, heard of, or themselves experienced some incident of indignity or injustice. In one extreme case, a man was shot and killed because he refused to exit the bus unless his ten-cent fare was returned to him. The driver had ordered him to exit the front doors and reenter through the back doors. The bus was so jammed that he would not have been able to do so, but he agreed to leave the bus entirely so long as his fare was returned. Many times, bus drivers would give this order—to reenter the bus from the back doors—only to drive off before the person could reach those doors. In another case, a man’s leg was shut in the door as his wife attempted to assist him off of the bus and he was dragged some way along before the driver finally stopped. A fifteen-year-old girl, Claudette Colvin, was arrested on charges of assault and battery, disorderly conduct and violation of a city ordinance for refusing to give up her seat and move to the assigned section.  The rampant nature of stories such as these is the reason why Martin Luther King Jr. writes in Stride Toward Freedom that while Mrs. Parks’ arrest may have precipitated the protest, it was not the cause. Those roots ran far deeper. My interest in King and the Montgomery Story has been budding and building over the past two years. In part, it is because I have bumped into King and this story in various places; in Simon Sinek’s works, in Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit and on one of my excursions to the American Library Association’s website where I came across a quote from Stride Toward Freedom that supplied me (in true ALA fashion) with a citation directing me to the correct source: “True peace is not merely the absence of tension, but the presence of justice Continue reading

Iris

See the source image“Your father… favoured a mahogany wand. Eleven inches. Pliable. A little more power and excellent for transfiguration. Well, I say your father favoured it – it’s really the wand that chooses the wizard, of course.”   —J. K. Rowling

This is not a Potter-post, but it is a post about Iris Apfel and, to begin with, the wisdom of the idea that “the wand chooses the wizard.”  I heard it proposed in person (by a psychologist no less) that we humans do not choose the things that grip us.  Our passions, even our dreams, our interests: they have us, they are holding onto us and not exactly the other way around.  And when I heard this I thought, what a marvelous, fascinating, wonderful idea!  What’s more, I think that it’s most probably true.  There are many other places that this thought appears, I’ve found.  I was reminded of what Elizabeth Gilbert expresses in her excellent book, Big Magic, and that is that creative ideas are themselves looking for someone to collaborate with, and of their own accord often proceed to come and find us (she even occasionally showers, shaves her legs, and dresses up extra presentably specifically in an attempt to attract more of them to herself when she is writing).

Big MagicTwo interesting stories to that effect (one from Gilbert’s book, and one that I read about fairly recently):

In Big Magic, Gilbert writes about how Tom Waits sometimes would experience musical concepts coming to him while he was out driving.  Once, he replied to a song which came to call at just such an obviously-inopportune moment, saying, “Go bother someone else. Go bother Leonard Cohen!”  No hard feelings, of course, Gilbert relays.  If a song is “serious about being born,” Waits believes, it will return when its potential to do so is more probable. Continue reading